Welcome back from Labor Day weekend, Mr. President:
Public pessimism about the direction of the country has jumped to its highest level in nearly three years, erasing the sense of hope that followed President Obama’s inauguration and pushing his approval ratings to a record low, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. More than 60 percent of those surveyed say they disapprove of the way the president is handling the economy and, what has become issue No. 1, the stagnant jobs situation. Just 43 percent now approve of the job he is doing overall, a new career low; 53 percent disapprove, a new high . . . By this time in their presidencies, approval ratings for both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton — who also suffered serious midterm setbacks during their first term — had settled safely above the 50 percent mark. Both then stayed in positive territory throughout their reelection campaigns . . . Of the more than six in 10 who now disapprove of Obama’s work on jobs and the economy, nearly half of all Americans “strongly” disapprove.
But wait, there’s more:
Only 38 percent of those polled say they favor a larger government with more services, while 56 percent say they favor a smaller government with fewer services. Things are also bad for Obama when Americans are asked a version of the famous “are you better off today” question that Reagan used to bludgeon Jimmy Carter on his way to defeating Carter in 1980. By better than 2 to 1, more say they are not as well off financially as they were at the start of Obama’s term.
On that last question, it appears Americans at least perceive themselves as losing ground as Obama’s term progresses. In July 2009, 8 percent said they were already doing better financially since Obama took office; 27 percent not as well off, and 64 percent “about the same.” Now, 15 percent say they’re better off, 35 percent say they’re not as well off as they were when Obama became president, and only 50 percent say “about the same.”
In August 1992, those numbers split 22 percent better off, 32 percent worse off, and 45 percent about the same. And we all remember how that turned out for Pres. George H. W. Bush . . .